Sunday, March 06, 2005
Satan uses circumstances and situations to mould us into his image. He is constantly there to corrupt the truth. He grooms us. When we are hurt, he pacifies us with self-pity. When others get more attention, he is sure to point it out to us, so we compete by escalating our self-seeking behaviour. He convinces us that we can get what we want by our looks, money or our charm, so we become manipulative and self-absorbed. Contrarily, perhaps we make a concerted effort to become ‘good people’ and choose to live our lives in a seemingly moral and just fashion, looking down our noses at those who do not share our ‘values’…becoming self-righteous in the process. Self-pity, self-seeking, self-absorbed, self-righteous…is there a common thread here?
Little children lack the capacity to assess an experience accurately or rationally. As my husband has often said, “Children are great observers but terrible interpreters”. For instance, a parent can tell little Mary over and over that she is loved, but if she notices her baby brother getting attention, she might perceive that she is not quite as beloved as he. The groomer is present, not only to suggest that subtle lie to little Mary, but to fan it into flame as years go by. “Hey, Mary!” whispers the devil. “Did you notice how your mom just hugged your brother? She didn’t hug you! She loves him more!” Because he not only planted the initial lie but feeds and waters it, Satan has set Mary up. He knows EXACTLY what buttons to push when it comes to feeding her self-pity. In years to come, he’ll point out to her how she is ignored when he is noticed, when he gets something she doesn’t, how people pay more attention to him than to her. For the rest of Mary’s life, she will believe the lie that her parents love her brother more than they do her, no matter how insistent her parents are that it is not true or how much they try to convince her - even to the point of spending MORE time and effort with Mary than with her brother. As the years go by, she’ll transfer her wounded self-pity into other aspects of her life. She’ll become the victim that can never get a break – the one that gets the dirty end of the stick, the martyr. The grooming is successful. The target is putty in Satan’s hands. The lie becomes entrenched. Black becomes white.
It is essential that believers acknowledge this grooming process. We are the roaring lion’s prey, seeking whom he may devour. The assaults do not stop when we become born again – they may even escalate. Satan initially attacks when we are helpless, naïve children. He takes advantage of our innocence and trust. He appears as an angel of light. He beguiles, charms and woos us. He becomes our confidante and coddles our wounded sense of self. We trust his motives. We are mesmerized. Then, when we are at our most vulnerable, he goes in for the kill.
We believers tend to blame parents, teachers, friends, co-workers or even the institutional church for our shortcomings and failures, but we fail to realize that they have also been groomed and fallen victim to this diabolical molestation. Like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” who is admonished to ‘pay no attention to that man behind the curtain’, they simply cannot see who is orchestrating the deception. As many have said, Satan’s greatest triumph has been to convince humankind he doesn’t exist!
In the movie, “The Matrix”, Morpheus gives Neo an insight into this hidden world:
“The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save… You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”
As years go by, we become so convinced of Satan’s lies, ‘so inured, so hopelessly dependent’ that the lies become the building blocks of our identity, who we perceive ourselves to be and how we behave. However, as believers, it is crucial that we begin to recognize the truth - but this means making a conscious decision to turn away from the groomer’s lies. This is not an easy task, but it is ultimately a glorious one. It means wrenching away from the stranglehold that has gripped us for years. It is warfare. In ‘The Matrix’, Morpheus describes the devil’s arena: “…you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.”
When we believers begin to see the man behind the curtain for what he is and how he has blinded the eyes of men and women since the beginning of time, we can begin to be set free in our thinking. We recognize the enemy for who he is, and that he is resident in all of us. The grip of the molestation we have endured for years is broken when we acknowledge the truth - that we are brand new creatures, unshackled by events of the past. When we see how fellow human beings have been similarly groomed, manipulated and controlled by the enemy of their souls, we are no longer in a position to judge but to feel compassion. We see everything in a different light – the light of truth.